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  • Maha Shivratri

    Maha Shivratri, translated as the great night of Shiva, is a festivity observed once every year to honour the God Shiva. Among the dualist Tantric Shaiva exegetical traditions, the festival is referred to as Har-Ratri or Herath for simplicity. There is a Shivaratri in every solar-luni month of the Hindu calendar system. This starts on the 13th night and continues to the following day. Each year towards the end of the winter season, just before the arrival of spring, Maha Shivratri is celebrated.

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    It is a significant event in the Hindu religion, this particular festival is characterised by solemnity and is meant to signify the triumph over darkness and ignorance in the world and in life itself. The festival is commemorated through fasting, yoga, chanting prayers and remembrance of Shiva. Believers also meditate on virtues and ethics like the discovery of Shiva, forgiveness, honesty and self-control.  Truly passionate devotees remain awake for the entire night. Others may embark on pilgrimages to jyotirlingas or pay a visit to one of the temples of Shiva.

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    Festivities

    The celebration includes the maintenance of a Jagran, a vigil and prayer for the entire night because Hinduism marks it a period of transcendence from ignorance and darkness in the world and in one's self through Shiva. Devotees make offerings of milk, fruits, sweets and leaves to the god Shiva, some take part in fasting with a Vedic worship of Shiva. In temples dedicated to Shiva, the revered mantra of Shiva is recited for the whole day. The Maha Shivaratri festival actually lasts for three or ten days depending on the Hindu solar-luni calendar.

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    Significance

    Scholars believe that Maha Shivaratri was the day that Shiva consumed the world's poisonous negativity to save it from destruction. This festival is mentioned in many ancient Indian texts especially the Linga Purana and Skanda Purana. These texts present varying explanations for the festival, but all call for reverence and fasting in remembrance of Shiva. There are different legends that explain the importance of the Mahashivratri festival.

    According to Shaivism, it marks the day that Shiva performed the celestial dance of preservation, destruction and creation. The sacrifices and prayers offered by worshipers join with this dance and commemorate Shiva everywhere. Another legend suggests that the festival marks the night that Parvati was wed to Shiva. A third account states that making sacrifices and offerings serves as atonement for previous sins and creates a new chance for individuals to walk a path of virtue so that they can reach liberation.

    Poompuhar wishes all our readers a very blessed Maha Shivratri. Check out our collection to select your favourite Shiv Pratima to celebrate this auspicious festival.

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  • Shiva Lingam – A symbol of creation

    Shiva Lingam, a holy symbol of lord Shiva, literally means the body of Shiva. It is considered as more sacred and holistic by Shiva devotees in and around India.

    Lingam is often seen as a symbol of the energy and potential of God, Shiva himself. The word “Lingam” has two parts – Lim (the end) and Gam (the recreation).

    It represents the manifesting power of God and some interpret the Lingam as the symbol of Truth, knowledge and Infinity.

    Shivalingam Antique Finish

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    The Puranas, Tantra, The early tribes of Indus valley civilization, modern Shiva theology scholars, and Hindu devotees interpret different meanings for Shiva lingam.

    The Shiva lingam is often worshiped attached to Yoni, a symbol of goddess Shakthi. It represents the oneness of male (Shiva) energy and Female (Shakthi) energy a source of creative energy – the Universe

    Early tribes of Indus valley civilization believed the togetherness of lingam and Yoni in Shiva lingam as the point of entire cosmos energy, creation, and enlightenment.

    Apart from these varied interpretations and believes the Lingam declares the truth that God does not have any definite form, thus makesworship simple. Lingam is not a form but it is an Arupa Rupam.

    Shiva Lingam could be divided into three parts consisting of lowest, the middle and the upper moat.The lowest portion symbolizes ‘Brahma-Pitha’ (the creator), the middle portion symbolizes ‘Vishnu-Pitha’ (Preserver), and the uppermost represents Shiva pitha (Samhara).

    There are 32 types of Shiva Lingams made of out of different materials from metals to seed paste.This because of Lord Shiva is believed to be beyond all qualities of Forms and Formless.

    The oldest example of Lingam is in Parasurameswara Temple at Gudimallam, a small village, located in Srikalahasti Mandal of the Chittoor district of Andra Pradesh.

    The 5 Pancha-bhuta Lingas are: Kalahastishwar, Jambukeshwar, Arunachaleshwar, Ekambareshwar of Kanjivaram, and Nataraja of Chidambaram.

    We, Tamil Nadu Poombuhar, present you this antique Shivlingam made of 5 metals containing Zinc, Copper, Gold, Lead, and Tin. This beautiful antique finished Shivalingam weighs 8 kgs and perfect for Pooja and for decoration purpose.

    Incorporate this Shiva Lingam at your home and get blessed with wealth, health, and happiness.

  • Nataraja: The Embodiment of Cosmos

    Indian art has for long been ruled by religious motifs. From the ancient times to the current era every form of art has a special topmost place for the bearers of religion. Lord Shiva who is famous for his dance the ‘thandavam’, is as much an art lover as the artists love to depict him. He is popularly known as ‘Natraja’, which literally means the ‘raja’ (King) of ‘Natiyam’ (Dance). All the Indian temples and particularly those of South India  flaunt images of Shiva-the cosmic dancer in various forms of art, the most common being the celebrated bronzes that are the tiara to all the other items of display in many-a-museums.  Shiva - the destroyer is among the 3 triad of energy that form the very base of the Hindu faith.  Bharatanatyam, a classical Indian dance form native to the state of Tamil Nadu has most of its moves inspired from Shiva’s dance.

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    Nataraja Thandavam [Image Credits: Balu Velachery - Flickr]

    The bronze statue of Nataraja is encircled in a sphere of the cosmic fire. The image radiates innumerable signifiers and readers of art read them in myriad ways. One of the vastly discussed aspects is the constant creation and destruction of the universe. His four hands; the two upper ones and the lower have their specific significance. The lower left hand calls for spirituality and the contentment that generates when one gives up ones baser wants. The lower right hand encourages the followers to perform good deeds while the upper right hand bears a damru that depicts time as it slips away. The upper left hand holds fire a symbol of destruction; thus the left and right upper hands demonstrate the creation and passage of time through the damru while the fire depicts the anger and destruction Shiva encompasses if need be.

    The birth of the Nataraja bronzes is age-old but tracing the place and time of origin with 100% precision is nearly impossible. The farthest the archaeologists have wandered is the 11th century. The first image of Natraja was found at Thillai Nataraja Temple at Chidambaram, but the historians do not establish it as the place where it was first made. Chidambaram is though often cited as the birthplace of the Bronze Nataraja. Shiva, who is usually represented in the form of Lingam, is rarely sculpted with human-like characteristics, thus this bronze deity holds a special place in the hearts of his devotees.

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    Thillai Nataraja Temple, Chidambaram [Image Credits: Jean-Pierre Dalbéra - Flickr]

    It is not only the Indian subcontinent that holds this image high but across cultures and lands the Nataraja image has gained immense popularity and words of appreciation.  Fritjof Capra, a well known American Physicist relates the cycle of creation and destruction to all forms of matter. CERN, European Centre for Nuclear Research, Geneva also flaunts a very tall statue that was installed in 2004.

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    Nataraja statue at CERN, Geneva where the God Particle was discovered [Image Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:CERN_shiva.jpg]

    This bronze sculpture has lived at least through the Pallava, Chola, Pandava Dynasties till the present age and shall also continue to rule the Indian art for ages to come.

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    A bronze Nataraja statue sculpted by Poompuhar artisans of the 21st Century using the Chola bronze technique

     

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